JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (March 23, 2021) – A bill introduced in the Missouri House would expand the state’s “Right to Try” law to include patients with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses. It would also allow the use of certain psychedelic drugs by such patients despite the federal prohibition of the same.
Rep. Michael Davis (R-Kansas City) Introduced House Bill 1176 (HB1176) on Feb. 18. Missouri was one of the first states to pass Right to Try back in 2014, a law authorizing terminally ill patients to access experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. HB1176 would expand the law to allow patients with “debilitating” or “life-threatening” illnesses to access experimental treatments as well.
The legislation would also expand the treatment options available to such patients by allowing “production and distribution of any Schedule I psychedelic drug that qualifies as an investigational drug” under the law. This would open the door for qualified patients to use psilocybin – the active compound in “magic mushrooms” – despite federal prohibition.
The bill would also legalize possession of psilocybin and several other Schedule 1 psychedelic drugs for patients using them under the Right to Try law.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of psilocybin. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
HB1176 would effectively end state enforcement of some laws prohibiting the possession of psilocybin. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with psilocybin.
BUILDING AGAINST FDA RESTRICTIONS
HB1176 would also build on and expand Missouri’s Right to Try Act and further push back against FDA mandates.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits general access to experimental drugs and treatments. However, under the expanded access provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 360bbb, patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases may access experimental drugs after receiving express FDA approval. RIght to Try allows terminally ill patients to bypass the expanded access provision and obtain experimental drugs from manufacturers without first obtaining FDA approval.
Congress passed a federal Right to Try law in 2018 after 40 states enacted laws allowing terminally ill patients to effectively bypass the FDA and try experimental treatments without federal permission.
HB1176 goes a step further, specifically authorizing treatments using psychedelics without regard to FDA and DEA regulations and expanding access beyond patients with terminal illnesses.
HB1176 first needs to be referred to a committee. Once it receives a committee assignment, it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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